You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The annual event, now in its 23rd year, celebrates a star's musical achievements and philanthropic work, and is hosted by Grammy organizers to kick off the weekend of the awards show.
The 55th annual Grammy Awards will air this Sunday on CBS.
Past Musicares honourees include Bono, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.
"It's kind of a freaky experience," said Springsteen, 63, as he accepted the award, saying it was "like the Italian wedding" he never had with his wife Patti Scialfa, or a "huge Bar Mitzvah."
Scialfa later accompanied Springsteen on vocals and guitar, along with other members of his band, as he performed a set of his hits, including "We Take Care of Our Own," "Born to Run" and "Glory Days."
Earlier in the night, he helped boost the value of an auctioned signed guitar. "With this guitar comes one free guitar lesson with me," he said to the audience to trigger more bids. Then he threw in a ride in the sidecar of his Harley motorcycle, and his mom's lasagna. The guitar sold for $250,000.
All of the proceeds from the show and silent auction go to Musicares, which provides support to struggling musicians in financial, medical and personal need.
Other artists including Ben Harper, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, John Legend and Patti Smith performed songs to honour Springsteen.
Springsteen recently performed at the 12/12/12 Hurricane Sandy charity concert in Madison Square Garden to raise funds for the thousands affected by the superstorm.
The singer-songwriter from New Jersey has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide and is vying for three Grammys on Sunday, including best rock album for "Wrecking Ball." His single "We Take Care of Our Own" is nominated for both Best Rock Song and Best Rock performance.
President Barack Obama used "We Take Care of Our Own" as one of his top campaign songs in last year's election, in which he defeated Mitt Romney.